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John Gregory-Smith says… Makhlouf, a tiny kebab shop in Beirut's Armenian neighbourhood Bourj Hammoud, has the best chicken shawarma in the world. The meat is so well spiced and juicy. It’s wrapped up with masses of garlic sauce, chilli, salad and pickles. But the best bit is the chips in the wrap. They are kept warm in a tray under the chicken, soaking up all the meaty juices. For my version, I roast the chips with the chicken and then get wrapping.



  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp lebanese seven-spice or baharat, see notes below
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1½ tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 55g greek yogurt


  • 500g skinless chicken thigh fillets
  • 300g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chips
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ lemon, juiced


  • lebanese garlic sauce or garlic mayo
  • 4 large flatbreads
  • 2 Little Gem lettuces, shredded
  • 2 large handfuls flat-leaf parsley
  • sliced gherkins and pickled turnips, to serve
  • to serve chilli sauce


  • STEP 1

    Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade with lots of seasoning in a large bowl. Add the chicken and mix well. Cover and chill overnight.

  • STEP 2

    When you’re ready to cook, heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Put the chips into a mixing bowl, cover with cold water and soak for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry with kitchen paper. Transfer to a roasting tray, drizzle over the olive oil and season. Mix and roast for 12 minutes until the chips start to soften.

  • STEP 3

    Arrange the chicken thighs on a grilling rack. Remove the chips from the oven and turn. Place the grilling rack over the tray of chips and return to the oven.

  • STEP 4

    Cook for 18-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and tender. Slice the chicken into thin strips, squeeze over the lemon juice and toss.

  • STEP 5

    To serve, spread the garlic sauce over the flatbreads. Top with the lettuce, parsley, gherkins, pickled turnips, chicken and chips. Drizzle over chilli sauce to taste.

Lebanese seven-spice and baharat are both Middle Eastern spice blends. You can buy lebanese seven-spice in Middle Eastern supermarkets. Buy baharat in larger supermarkets or make your own with our easy recipe here.

Recipes extracted from Saffron in the Souks by John Gregory-Smith (£25, Kyle Books)


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